George E. Boller. A Hawkeye is born!
George Edward Boller was born to Waldo E. and Olive A. Boller on May 11, 1921 in Wayland, Iowa. As you know from reading Waldo & Olive’s story, the birth of George provided a great joy to the Boller family after the infant death of Kathryn Anna in 1916. With Waldo’s brother, Frank, fathering only two daughters, George became the sole member of our fifth generation of Bollers who could carry the Boller name forward to generation six!
George Edward and a page from his baby book.
Being an only child, George quickly found outside interests to entertain him. In a baby book, his mother Olive wrote that George attended his first circus in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa at age five. His intense love for Iowa Hawkeye football and basketball also started at the same early age.
In an article written by Sports Editor Al Grady for the Iowa City Press Citizen (Iowa Homecoming, October 15, 1976), we find that George Boller grew up to become “A Hawkeye Football Nut.” Quoting Grady’s article:
“It was 50 years ago this fall (November, 1926) at the robust age of five, that Boller saw his first Homecoming football game. ‘Iowa lost to Minnesota 41-0 that day,’ the 55-year-old Boller recalls, ‘and I guess my hatred of Minnesota teams stem from that day.’ Actually, Boller admits he doesn’t remember much about the game, but does remember seeing ‘four or five games’ at Old Iowa Field with his father in the years 1926 to 1928 and vividly recalls the rain-drenched dedication game at the new Iowa Stadium (now named Kinnick Stadium) against Illinois in 1929 when he was only eight. ‘He (Waldo) was really an Iowa fan,’ recalls George of his father, ‘and I remember him talking, when I was a kid, of Iowa beating Minnesota in 1918.'”
In those early years, George remembers coming to an Iowa game or two every year with his father, Waldo. “I remember it was in 1931 that Highway 218 between Ainsworth and Iowa City was paved and we thought it would really be something that we wouldn’t have to drive to Iowa City in mud or gravel.” Driving this stretch of road (Highway 218) in 1931 would certainly not be the last for George Boller!
1930’s Growing up during the Great Depression.
Actually, the Al Grady article which commemorated George’s fiftieth Iowa football homecoming celebration, spans George’s history from the early days until 1976. In writing Our Boller Story, it will be easier for me to quote from time to time from the article and then fill in with more details that I might have, so here goes…
Floyd of Rosedale. Click here to read the story of how Floyd came into existence…
“The years 1931 through 1938 were depression years…(George) recalls that in 1933, in the midst of the depression, he saved enough money from his paper route to buy tickets to Iowa’s three home games for both himself and his father, the tickets having been reduced in price that year to $1.50.” George was also there at: “the 1934 Iowa game with Minnesota, a 48-12 win for the Gophers….that’s the game where the bad blood came in the Iowa-Minnesota series, the one in which the Gophers allegedly roughed up Ozzie Simmons (a star Iowa player) and the next year the governors of the two states made a bet offering Floyd of Rosedale (a prized hog) as a trophy to try to ease the bad feelings.”
Floyd of Rosedale remains a key component in Iowa/Minnesota football games to this day.
In August of 1933, George also had the tremendous boyhood experience of traveling with family friends to Chicago, Illinois for a whirlwind visit to the 1933-34 Chicago’s World Fair called “A Century of Progress.” In correspondence between Waldo, writing on Boller Furniture Company letterhead, and George, housed at Willard Hall on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois, we see some enjoyable conversation between father and son. Waldo, writing on Wednesday, August 23rd, in response to George’s quick August 22nd postcard stating “we arrived here about 6:30 Chicago time…will write more later”, writes, “Dear Sonny Boy…just got back from supper and will write you a few lines…we got your card this morning (amazing that the mail was so fast back then!)…I suppose you went to the fair today and had a good time…Mama canned apples and tomatoes and grapes at Grandma’s today and we ate dinner there. Listen to the games today (Chicago White Sox) and Bob Ellson (famous Sox sportscaster) said it was raining in New York and Philadelphia. Mamma (Olive) and Grandpapa (Hulme) went down to Maple Grove School House (near the Finley Methodist Church) this evening to an ice cream supper…will close hoping you are well and take care of yourself…as ever, your Daddy.”
1938-1940 Great Iowa Football souvenirs from George’s college days at the University of Iowa.
Going back to Al Grady’s column:
“Boller was graduated from Wayland High School in 1938 and arrived as a freshman at Iowa in 1938 just in time to be part of the unforgettable football renaissance brought by the immortal Nile Kinnick and the Ironmen. ‘I’ll never forget that season, says George…beating Notre Dame one Saturday and then Minnesota the next was something I’ll never forget, and of course, in those days since I was a student, I got to know quite a few of the players.’ George collected a number of autographs and photos from the coaches and players from that Ironmen Iowa squad, including Nile Kinnick, who went on the win the Heisman Trophy (college football’s highest award) in 1939, only to die serving his country as an airman during World War II.”
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.